The Junior Lawyers Division of The Law Society (JLD) has released new recommendations on creating a healthy alcohol culture within law firms.
To mark the launch, the JLD will not be serving alcohol at any of its events during January 2020.
Among the JLD’s nine recommendations for law firms: swapping “boozy” prizes and rewards like bottles of wine and champagne for restaurant vouchers, activity days or hampers; moving suitable events from the evening to other times of the day, which has the added bonus of helping those who are at risk of being excluded due to childcare or other commitments; and working with caterers to offer more interesting alternatives to alcoholic drinks.
Macfarlanes solicitor Laura Uberoi, who authored the guidance, said: “The intention is not to stop individuals drinking alcohol altogether – that is a choice for individuals. Instead, it is promoting insight and the opportunity to create a healthier, more inclusive approach to work-related activities.”
“Changing drinking habits and the responsibility for not getting drunk is left to the individual. However, as a profession, there is a collective responsibility to make positive change and choice easier for our members, clients and intermediaries.”
The UK legal profession, especially in the City, has traditionally been steeped in alcohol, but attitudes have changed in the past decade, with an increased focus on physical and mental health and recent #MeToo allegations often resulting from drunken nights out.
Questions about the drinking culture at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer were raised during the appearance of partner Ryan Beckwith before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) in October last year.
“The drinking culture that exists in all law firms” was also referenced in the December SDT hearing involving Baker McKenzie’s former City boss Gary Senior, who was accused of inappropriate conduct towards an associate after an alcohol-fuelled evening.